My 1990 Honda Accord

I got my car around one and half years back, and its not given me any major problems since then. The only maintenance I gave her was the
regular oil-changes.
[Car Details: 1990 Honda Accord LX Sedan 4D, 142K milage 4-Cyl. 2.2 Liter , Automatic Transmission]
(1) Few months back the alternator went bad, and I had it replaced from Autozone. I am fairly a new driver and I dont know much about car details. The autozone people first tricked me into changing the battery and eventually i had to change the alternator too. It all cost me around 150$.
(2) Thereafter, after a couple of months the car wouldnt start when I tried starting it after it had a quite day in the garage. It seemed the battery got drained out or something, though I didnt feel so 2 days before.. when I last drove it. So I got it jump-started and took it to FireStone. They said, the alternator I got from Autozone was faulty and that they would have to change that. That alone cost me 377$!! I had no option since I work from 8 to 5, this is my only car and I didnt want to bother my friends.
So all in all, though getting the alternator changed is a very common and a trivial problem it did cost me a lot: (1) around 550$ (2) the feeling that it is very easy for any mechanic to fool me (3) A recently developed sense of distrust towards my car (I dont like that!), though it was not at all her fault in all what happened.
My questions: - What precautions do I need to take to avoid any potential problem with my car? I am taking her to a mechanic this weekend, to get her Engine, Transmission, Suspension etc checked. (I hardly know any of these terms in detail, but I got the information from kbb). I'll also have my car tuned up (change spark plugs and all that). Do I need to give her any other periodic maintenance?
- Are there any good (honest) mechanics around Birmingham (AL). Incase so, could somebody please give me their contact information?
- Is there anything I can do to not let mechanics fool me any further (besides learning from my own mistakes) ? Incase there r some easy-to-learn tutorials about the common car problems please let me know.
- How bad is getting the time belt changed? I think that might be one thing I need to do eventually. Please let me know if that has any potential after-effects (such as leaks) and if its a very delicate job (something that i should get done only from a talented mechanic)
- And my last question, how many times have i been fooled by mechanics?? (Autozone/Firestone/or Both :(
Thanks a lot for ur time!!
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On 23 Sep 2003 15:27:01 -0700, asmita snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (AA) wrote:

Learn about cars.

You're due for a timing belt.
Change your oil regularly. It's a good idea to flush and replace your brake fluid every couple of years too.

I have no idea who's good and who isn't in your area, but the nearest Honda car club will know, and you can bet it won't be a dealer.
The algorithm I work with is to look for a clean, well equipped garage, not a gas station; owner operated and specializing in Honda or at least Japanese cars; in as obscure a location as possible. A place that's so hard to find you know for sure they get next to no walk-in business. Such garages depend utterly on a good reputation and word of mouth advertising.

Learn about cars. Get a shop manual. Do as much of your own maintenance as possible. Find a knowledgable friend. Join a car club.

http://www.welovehondas.com/library.htm
Can be expensive, but it's a must.

No, you need to do it NOW.

It's a little much for a beginner. Don't try it yourself.

Probably lots. Don't go to those places, or dealers.
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I hope you took the alternator from Autozone back for a refund. It should have been under warranty. Also, when having parts replaced, ALWAYS ask for the old parts back. That's the only way you can be sure that they were replaced. I recently had the timing belt, oil seals and water pump replaced on my Accord at a dealer ($540). The mechanic could not find the camshaft seal, so I took it back and made him put in a new one. Also, they used recycled coolant that did not meet Honda's specs, so I made them change that too. For my trouble, they comped me two oil changes. The more you know about your car the less likely you are to be ripped off. Take the time to read this newsgroup and rec.autos.tech and alt.autos.honda, and you'll learn a lot.
Spudston
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On Wed, 24 Sep 2003 02:13:31 GMT, "Spudston"

Spudston is correct, and don't just ask, demand. Those are your parts, you still own them. In some cases they may have a salvage value. Their condition is useful as a diagnostic (spark plug color for instance). Perhaps replacement won't cure the fault, in which case the part may be still good and you can keep it as a spare.
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something i always tell people is that Fast Food is Bad for You. pep boys, firestone, valvoline oil change, walmart, that's all fast food.
you need to talk it up with some friends of yours who have a good local mechanic that they trust. talk with some enemies too, ask your boss, your mother, your mailman, whatever. word of mouth is the best advertising, and probably the best way to find a good mechanic.
--
Ben Jerew
ASE Master Technician
  Click to see the full signature.
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And i thought Hondas last forever, wait thats what honda owners say. (rolleyes)
You cant say firestone ripped you off, if your car is starting up everytime. and your battery is being charged.
Firestone may have "real" mechanics compared to a 16yr old kid at autozone.
If you bought an alternator from autozone, was it a remanufac. Sometimes those dont last forever. Some of those "rebuilt" alternators can break down within a year. Firestone could have put in a brand new alternator in your vehicle and that is why you spent so much, besides the labor.
And why would he want to keep his old alternator? Because he would be charged a core charge? And if he did install it himself, he would know which one was the new altnerator.
Because you dont know anything about cars. You need to find a friend who does or educate yourself. Ask people that you know where they bring their car to get it worked on.
Im not sure if your honda has an interference motor. If it does, and your timing belt breaks, you will have severe engine damage. You do want to change a timing belt according to what your manual states. A broken timing belt will not let your car run, and leave you on the side of the road. Then you have to look forward to a tow, diagnostics(maybe) then the mechanics to fix it. Include the loss of work if you stalled during a workday, and maybe not having a car for a day or two.
And how would recycled coolant not be to "honda specs"? If it is the same coolant, and was treated to have the same original properties why wouldn't it be?
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Agreed.
Because a core charge is way less than what they should give you back on a refund of the original purchase price.

It has an interference motor.

Because it probably has borates and/or silicates in it, which Honda coolant does not. I asked the service manager, who said it did not meet Honda's specs. If it was recycled HONDA coolant, I would have been happy to use it, but it wasn't.
Spudston
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So why should he keep a broken alternator?
Unless he knows how to rebuild an alternator, then he should definately keep it.
He just has a 10lb of scrap metal, and all he can get is 10cents if he is lucky.
He can get atleast 3 bucks a lot more then scrapping it and the thing gets recycled.
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keep it.

lucky.
recycled.
Lets say he paid Autozone $100 for the first alternator. It goes bad, so he has Firestone replace it. He tells Firestone he wants his Autozone alternator back. They charge him, say, $25 core charge. He takes the Autozone alternator back to Autozone and demands a refund because it failed under warranty. Original price: $100, less the $25 paid for the core charge to Firestone, equals $75. I hope this explains it to you. If not, I give up.
Spudston
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nevermind
I thought you were refering to him keeping the alternator from autozone and not from the mechanic that repaired his vehicle.
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